September 27, 2020 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092720.cfm)
Recently, a Q&A post was logged in Facebook. It asked the question: Is mortal sin forgiven only through sacramental confession? In other words, is it enough just to confess your sin to be forgiven of your mortal sin? The answer was, sacramental confession is normatively but not absolutely required of mortal sin. Meaning, confession can forgive mortal sin but it is not the only one way of forgiving and being forgiven of mortal sins. Saying sorry then is not enough for you have to do something about being sorry to renew faith & trust with others.
Yes, forgiving mortal sin through sacramental confession is all about reconciliation with God and others, but it is also and moreso about repentance – the whole process of turning from sin and dedicating oneself to amend one’s life & relationships for the better.
Our readings today have a lot to teach us about repentance. First of all, repentance is more than just changing one’s mind, but it is about making a choice – a stand for ones life. In our gospel, both sons changed their minds, the second did not fulfill what he promised while the first did what was requested which he had initially refused. The virtuous as well as the wicked may also change their mind as our first reading suggests. Although it involves much changing one’s mind, repentance thus requires our choice – to turn away from virtuous or wicked life, as well as to fulfill or neglect our promise.
Second, repentance is giving oneself and the others another chance. In our gospel today, because he chose to neglect his promise, the second son did not give himself and his father a chance to make things right. The first son however gives himself and his father another chance to make things right again by doing what was requested, even though he did not initially commit at first. In the same way, for the wicked to change his mind and turn away from his wickedness, he gives himself another chance for God to forgive and be merciful to Him, and for himself to lead a virtuous life.
Third, repentance is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It is not only about confessing you sin – just saying you’re sorry, but it is all about Being sorry. Confessing one’s sin is also not only about resolving to change your ways but it is all committing/ dedicating oneself in changing one’s life. Jesus asks about whom among the sons who Did the will of Father. He is not concern with who says Yes or No, but who does the Father’s will. Meaning, God needs doers who mean what they say, live and witness what they preach and believe, rather than preachers who do not do, live, witness what they say and preach.
Although less appreciated compared to other sacraments, repentance of sin through the sacrament of reconciliation or confession is actually a Gospel – a good news of God’s salvation because it involves the resolve and commitment of the sinner to change one’s life, to give oneself and God another chance, as well as to live his life and dedicate his faith as witness to Christ’s good news to all.
St. Francis of Assisi who once said: Preach the Good news at all times, and use words when necessary. This reminds us that everything in our life as Christian – our struggles, hopes, dreams, aspirations, commitments, as well as our repentance of sin is a Life of Witness to the Good News of Christ. Whatever we do and however we live our Christian lives is a testimony to God’s work of salvation. It is ours now to share and preach such gospel to all at all times, not only by our words but also by our actions.
Remember our God is a God of surprises and another chances who we will come to know if and when we give Him and ourselves another chance of better than usual life through our reconciliation and repentance. Somehow Jesus is saying to us today that it is never too late for us to change our minds, our ways and our lives…. just believe in Him, and be His witness by doing what we mean. This would be the Lord’s challenge for us now.
Today’s pandemic times has indeed been a significant crisis experience for all of us that also requires our important life-adjusting decisions. Difficult as it may be, these times could also be our choosing to give ourselves and God another chance now for a better meaningful than our usual directionless life, by our living our lives in witness of our faith. Transform, O Lord, our initial refusal, reluctance and neglect to follow you so that we may taste and see the better chance you are offering us now even amidst and through this pandemic crisis in our life. Amen.
By Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR (a former Filipino Redemptorist Missionary for Filipino Migrants in South Korea who, due to immune compromised diabetic condition, stationed back home in the Philippines for now).